RICOVR Healthcare, IIT Madras bag Ignition Grants Award for saliva-based COVID-19 POC diagnostic device

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Biosensor platform uses small drop of saliva to provide high quality, cost-effective results in five minutes  to detect active viral particles on the spot without needing specialised apparatus

A point-of-care COVID-19 antigen test that can provide results in five minutes using saliva has won the Ignition Grants Award from the US India Science and Technology Endowment Fund (USISTEF). Developed by RICOVR Healthcare, an US-based rapid diagnostics platform company and IIT Madras this project won after a rigorous bi-national review process of over 400 proposals.

RICOVR Healthcare’s patented biosensor platform reportedly uses a small drop of saliva to provide high-quality, cost-effective results in approximately five minutes. IIT Madras is collaborating with RICOVR to bring this novel COVID-19 antigen test to the market. The approach of detection and simple use of saliva will help bring a cost-effective, accurate, and user-friendly device to global markets in need of more immediate diagnostic tools.

The point-of-care diagnostics, or near-patient testing market that the company operates in, is expected to generate $50.51 billion in revenues by 2026 in the US alone. Testing at the point of care in this way increases the efficiency of diagnostic and testing process, and helps to ensure that patients are receiving the highest-quality care by freeing up invaluable time normally occupied by waiting for test results.

Highlighting the unique aspects of this collaboration, Dr Himanshu Bhatia, Founder and CEO, RICOVR Healthcare said, “Given the scientific vetting process’s rigour, this achievement adds credibility to our already-proven technology. Our scientific approach and methodical steps continue to propel RICOVR in the right direction. With this recognition and partnership, we are confident we can achieve better outcomes and a robust testing platform for COVID detection.”

The RICOVR and IIT Madras collaboration focuses on developing and implementing new technologies and systems to satisfy unmet rapid and reliable testing needs. The award takes RICOVR Healthcare one step closer to bringing the Point-of-care Fiber-optic Biosensor (P-FAB) device from the lab to the market, according to a release.

Elaborating the technology behind this COVID-19 diagnostic device, Dr V V Raghavendra Sai, Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Department of Applied Mechanics, IIT Madras, said, “This technology is differentiated from the other molecular and antibody-based test in that it can detect the presence of active viral particles on the spot without needing a specialised apparatus. Our lab has already demonstrated and shown the capability of our technology in other diagnostics fields.  This award will help us rapidly progress our work for this much-needed diagnostics test. This can be a game-changer in the management and control of COVID-19.”

USISTEF, a joint fund established by the US and India to promote innovation through science and technology, had called for proposals under the category of COVID-19 Ignition Grants in April 2020. The intent was to support promising joint US-India entrepreneurial initiatives that address the development and implementation of new technologies, tools, and systems to address COVID-19 related challenges, including monitoring, diagnosis, health and safety, public outreach, information, and communications.

COVID-19IIT MadrasPOC diagnosticsRICOVR HealthcareSalivaUSISTEF
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